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The rate of crime had been increasing before the year of 1995. Law, sociology, physiology and other disciplines tend to view the criminals as abnormal persons from moral point. The causes of crime are criminal psychology, the genetic characteristics and social environment. They think that youth criminal have no moral value and feelings, who crime without clear motives and do not consider the punishment.
In 1998, Stephen Levitt used the economic methods of maximized behavior, market equilibrium and stable preferences to explain the youth crime in his “Juvenile Crime and Punishment”. He believed that young offenders are also completely rational “economic man”, who will carefully trade off the cost, income balance, then seek to maximized benefits. Levitt tested the strongly direct correlation between the number of juvenile crime and juvenile justice system punishment from 1978 to 1993.
Based on this theory, this paper aims to discuss the specific causes of youth crime in Canada, and analysis would be made on the data of Statistics Canada. Following this, some suggestions would be given on how to reduce the number of young people committing crime.
2.1 According to the course of the economics of crime and punishment, what are the possible determinant factors impacting on young people crime?
The causes of youth crime are various. Crime is the consequences of different social, cultural, economic and family conditions (Muhammad, 2008). Generally, because there are so many causes this paper select some reasons and discuss them particularly.
(1) Social environment
Social environment has long been recognized as the major cause of the youth crime, which include school environment and community environment. The problem of youth crime is not alone but a part of the whole society. That is to say the violence of youth is part of the violence of adult. The economics of crime and punishment has three assumptions. In the beginning, everyone is a rational person who can decide their own behavior and maximize their benefits. What is more, whoever crimes will suffer punishment since each one is equal and the possibility of punishment is 0 to 100 percent. In the last, the more severe punishment will be given for the more serious crime.
As a matter of fact, young people usually spend a lot time in school, so school environment has deep influence on youth crime. Statistics show that currently there is a sharp growth trend of juvenile delinquency in the United States, and the U.S. youth homicide and suicide increased by 3.2 times in the past decade. During the same time, the ratio of aged under 15 dead because of shot is 12 times higher than the ratio of other 25 countries combined. In recent years because of violence in the campus, the youth of United States is suffering pain about widespread youth violence. Although among all the murder and suicide case only 1% occurred in the campus, the figure has an anticipation of fast growing.
Meanwhile aside from school, young people also spend much time in community where they can know peers and do meaningful things together. From the assumption of the “rational economic person”, community activities can help individual realize the maximum of one’s own benefit. However young people are always sensitive about the other’s opinions so that they are influenced by others easily and then they will imitate other’s behaviors.
(2) Economic condition
In general, poverty and unemployment of economic condition which are two major factors influence the youth crime. Between the benefits and justice, the criminals always select the first due to the economics of crime and punishment. This theory fully considered the probability of the two kinds of cost, and then looked for a method which can save the most for the society. Thus the standard of estimating a policy is not depended on the justice and fairness but on the beneficial result.
Firstly if one can not afford the cost of his life, the possibility he choose to crime will be higher. That is because he need to live but he can not receive money from a legal way. Through a classic Becker type model, economists estimate how potential criminals cost in the legitimate job market by using an unemployment data. The analysis shows that unemployment and crime are positively correlated in the cross-section dimension. Meanwhile the rate of youth unemployment increasing leads to increases in crime. To decrease crime, it seems that all strategies chosen to combat youth unemployment should be examined.
Secondly poverty is a reasonable factor to understand. Despite the benefit system of the whole society has been designed to fulfill daily needs of each person, the gap of the poor and the rich are becoming deeper and deeper. The reason why young people commit crime is they do not want to work and the cost of crime can ignore easily.
(3) Family effects
All in all, there are many aspects in the family structure which can lead to youth crime, such as family clash, parents’ low income, ignorance of parents, lack of communication, family breakup, family violence, and so on. Improvements in all invisible areas should be focused on by crime prevention. In order to design the policy more effective, each factor should be identified the contribution to the youth crime.
To begin with, as a proverb said a person’s character is mostly from his family or the environment he live. With the increases of divorce, family harmony is broke up. Young people themselves do not have enough knowledge to differ the bad from the good, so they need their parents’ help. If they do not receive enough information and supervision, the possibility of crime will get higher.
What is more, neighborhood effects on crime and delinquency for male and female youth is an important fact. According to an experiment evidence, female youth arrested for violent and property crimes are relative to a group which has many members from lower-poverty areas. In opposite, males arrested decreases for violent crime, at least in the short time, but increases property crime. The different treatment between male and female youth effects appears to mirror differences in what disadvantaged backgrounds male and female youths from and how each gender responds to same new neighborhood environments.
2.2 Explain the data about youth crime at Statistics Canada. Use econometrics methods to analyze the specific reasons of the increasing number about young people crime in Canada.
(1) Rates of youth crime
According to the data of Canada given (Statistics Canada, 2006), the rates of youth violent crime and total Criminal Code offences (excluding traffic) climbed up while the rates of property crime dropped from 2005 to 2006. In 2006, there are almost 180,000 young people involved in some crime of the Criminal Code, excluding traffic offences. This means that in this age group nearly 6.8% youth crime accused. Both the total amount and rate of young people charged for homicide got their highest point during the past two decades. Among the young people, the number of youth violent crimes nearly takes up one quarter of the total number for youth committing crime.
Youth crimes reported for Criminal Code offences
Number of youth charged
Number of youth cleared by means other than charging
Total youth accused
Youth crime rate
Youth crime rate
% change in total youth crime rate
Other Criminal Code offences
Criminal Code(excluding traffic)
From: The Juristat: “Youth crime in Canada, 2006,” Vol. 28, no. 3
From the table above, the rate of property crime has a sharp decline and become the lowest point of the past decade. That is to say, the poverty reason of youth crime gets less influence on the behavior of young people. However the rate of drug offences has a surprising increase and it has become the major factor of youth crime. The table also shows there are slight climbing on the rates of violent crime and other Criminal Code offences.
(2) Consequences of youth crime
People are affected by crime on many aspects, usually young people are innocent about the law and punishments they choose to commit crime blindly only for the money they want or a way to let off their feelings. As a result, violent and drug substance abuse have bad effects on young people daily life and the security of the whole society cannot be guaranteed. Parents will concern their children’ security and maybe they cannot work with all their enthusiasm. Each youth will be afraid of going to school since there are so many violent crimes on campus.
(3) Analysis of regression (RSS)
Firstly according to the table the rates of poverty crime and the rates of Criminal Code (excluding traffic) declined so that the two rates have little effects on the youth crime, in order to build model more easily, the above two referred rates will be removed.
Secondly a model should be built to determine whether the three rates left have relations with youth crime then some reasons can be given clearly. Through the data of model, a result of the RSS will be introduced in the following content.
Equation: y =Î±+Î²1 x1 +Î²2 x 2 + Î²3x 3+Îµ
In the equation, y indicates the rate of youth crime while x1 x 2 x 3 are separately on behalf of violent crime, other Criminal Code offences and drug offences. Î²1 Î²2 Î²3 are parameters represent the relation of x and y.
Î±= -0.0577 Î²1= 0.0002423 Î²2 = 0.005873 Î²3= 0.08212
Equation: y =-0.0577+0.0002423 x1 +0.005873 x 2 + 0.08212x 3+Îµ
(4) The specific reasons of youth crime in Canada
On the one hand, drug and substance abuse is the most important factor contributed to the rate of youth crime. This factor has become the dominant strength for youth crime which mostly comes from the lack supervision of the environment young people live. The rate of drug-related youth crime has increased dramatically compared with 10 years earlier. Drug and substance abuse will not only have bad effects on youth mentally but also it will damage the health of young people that can not recover easily. The pressure may be from family, school and the inside of youth heart so others can not discover in a short time.
On the other hand, the rates of violent crime and other Criminal Code offences are climbing up slightly. The reason is mostly from the social factors which include poor impulse control, lack of communication and the imitation of others’ behaviors. Aside from the mental factor, it is true young people usually get a lot of pressure from the surroundings, if they can not find a legal way to relieve their feelings the probability they chose to crime will be climb up. Even some of young people view crime as a pleasure that is awful, and this kind of thought mostly comes from the media and films. They commit crime for fun, it will damage others’ benefits eventually so will the youth.
All in all, it is necessary to control the number of youth drug crime which has become the most serious problem of the society. Meanwhile lack of family communication and school correct guide can also lead to young people committing crime. That is to say young people always know nothing about their behaviors and what bad results will happen to the persons they maybe hurt.
3.0 Based on the economics theory and the information in this article, what advice would you give organizations in reducing the rate of young people crime?
First for the dramatic increase in the youth drug and substance offences, it is necessary to redesign the program of youth education. Currently there are still many people who do not realize the importance of the education, even the people with higher education. In order to broadcast the essence of education, a new system of education should be designed and displayed among persons from one to another. If a young person receives higher education, he can get a job more easily and the possibility of crime will get down. In a long run, the awareness of whole society will decrease the rate of unemployment so that the number of crime can be controlled completely.
Secondly it is efficient to reduce the drug availability since the problem of drug and substance abuse is the most serious one. To make fewer people get access to dangerous drugs availability of it is needed to be cut short. A drug addicted young person may work without enough attention and thus cannot afford his/her drug expenses. As a result youth may crime so that they can get money they need. Government should carry out effective ways to reduce the drug availability, and give severe punishment once the drug criminals are accused. A record of each criminal activities and asset possession etc. should be maintained by the police system, and all vehicles must be registered in a platform so that it is easier to find the criminal track. Youth may consider more about the result of the crime with the fear of their record on previous crime.
Thirdly it is necessary to enhance the law forcing agencies. Since the number of youth crime is climbing up, it is obvious that more police needed. To improve the police attitude about work, the environment they work should be improved and the problem in their life should be solved as soon as possible. The train of the police is necessary because offenders will commit more crimes when they think the police cannot have enough capacity to catch them. If the whole level of forcing agencies is improved, offenders will think more deeply about committing a crime. Youth stealing goods usually sells them to get money they want. There are special markets to recycle the stolen good for sale. If these markets are forced to close in law, goods youth stolen cannot find a method to change money. As a result, the incentive of stealing or robbing goods can be decreased.
At last, youth crime has become a serious problem which needs government and citizen effort together to solve. Aside from the measures above, there are still some other methods which can be taken to control the youth crime. For example, if government can supply more employment opportunities, the rate of youth crime will fall. Besides, reducing of poverty and inequality is also a good way to control the number of youth crime. The inequality can be declined through correct tax policy with fair consideration. The rich should be levied more heavily than the poor so that the poor can receive more help from the government and the increasing minimum of wage in the country. When the number of young people getting work is increasing, the chances of their criminal activities will fall.
Through the analysis of the Canada database in 2006, building a model and using the RSS method it is obvious to see there are three reasons contributed to youth crime. The most important one is drug and substance abuse which take up more than 90% of the whole youth crime. Following it is other Criminal Code offences and violent crime. The conclusion is these three reasons take up almost all the youth crime which should be given enough attentions. In addition, there are many bad consequences of youth crimes which can influence the young people themselves, the family they live and even the whole society. Thus it is necessary to take measures immediately to solve the problem of youth crime.
To sum up, young people is the hope of the whole country so how to reduce the number of youth crime has many relations with the future of the country. Based on the theory and data, the reasons why young people commit crime are given properly, and the government should take some measures according to these reasons in order to control youth crime. Meanwhile lack of family communication has bad effects on the children in their growth, and this can lead to a series of problems in the society. Government must call parents for their responsibilities to their children, only by doing so can be the problem solved completely. Through the government, family, and the whole society cooperate each other closely, make sure each young person realizes the bad effects of the crime so that a new social environment will be formed.
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